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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Build It & They Will Come – Earning Referrals

Imagine your field of dreams overflowing with all of the referrals you could ever hope for!  Closing your eyes and picturing a huge field full of perfect referrals to help you grow your firm doesn’t have to be a dream, you can make it reality.

The old way of getting a referral is more than just old.   It’s now considered greedy, pushy and desperate.  Asking for referrals puts your clients in an uncomfortable position.  Building loyalty and trust with clients is paramount to ensure client retention.  Making clients feel uncomfortable by asking for a referral could jeopardize your relationship, thus causing more harm than good.

I have noticed that nothing I never said ever did me any harm.   ~Calvin Coolidge

Referrals are still the best and most profitable source for new client acquisition.  Learning how to earn referrals is the key to a successful referral plan. It is easy to ask for a referral, anyone can do it.   Elite advisors don’t ask, they earn.  Implementing a referral program at your firm should be a goal for every advisor.  Learning the correct way to implement and use your plan is vital to overall firm reputation, growth and profitability.

Putting your reputation on the line; why would anyone give you a referral?

When a client or strategic alliance partner provides a referral to your firm, their reputation is on the line.  To earn a referral, the referee needs to feel confident that you are trustworthy, knowledgeable and will provide a positive experience to a new prospect.  As an advisor, your primary focus must be on the client and the overall client service  you provide.  If you are “just in it for the money”, clients will eventually see through the bogus wall.

Steps to earn referrals;

Ironstone has compiled a list of the best practices you can use and apply to start earning referrals and stop asking for them. 

  • Become friends with your clientsMeet with clients socially at business networking events and other non-sales related events.
  • Provide incredible client serviceThis will instill a “no-fear” mindset in your client.  Clients will feel there is little risk in recommending your firm to a peer.
  • Pay It ForwardYou need to give to get!  Avoid making the mistake of expecting something in return.
  • Be availableMake it easy for clients and prospects to do business with anyone in your firm at all times.
  • Be patientKeep in mind that relationships take time to build, let them develop over time otherwise you come off as “needy”.
  • Provide educationUse newsletters, client meetings, email, websites and social media to keep your clients and prospects informed of current issues.

Client referrals start with the quality and depth of your client relationships.  You may choose to include asking for referrals in your overall strategy; however, once you have incorporated earning referrals in your strategic referral plan, provide first-class service and a memorable experience; referrals will fill your field of dreams.

We are curious!!  How do you earn referrals?  Do you ask or earn?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about operational effectiveness and your service matrix!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:

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Do You Have A Bucket List For Your Firm?

Most of us have a bucket list created for our personal lives living in our thoughts or being utilized as a functional document.  A bucket list is the thoughts, dreams and goals that we want to achieve in our lifetime.  It serves as a roadmap to guide and lead us to reach each of those goals.

A bucket list outlines:

  • A list of your life goals
  • A reminder to focus and live by your personal values
  • How you will find joy by fulfilling your goals

Your business plan should serve as the bucket list for your firm.

Developing your initial business plan is essential in achieving the goals you have realized in your mind and will provide you with a written plan to follow, evaluate and revise.   Just as you achieve and make changes to your personal bucket list, you will do the same with your business plan.

A bucket list can change your life.  A business plan will improve results.

Ironstone’s research shows us that approximately 40% of financial advisors actually have a written business plan and even fewer have a marketing plan.  Those firms that implemented a completed business plan have 50% more profits and revenue than firms without a plan.

Your business plan will:

  • Provide you with a complete view of your firm and allow you to examine its viability
  • Show you potential areas for growth and success
  • Ensure that your entire team is committed to each goal
  • Communicate your vision and mission
  • Help you gain an understanding of opportunities and challenges facing your firm
  • Outline areas to create strategies and tactics to reach each goal

In our blog, “Creating A Roadmap For The Success Of Your Firm”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/business-plans-creating-a-roadmap-for-the-success-of-your-firm/ we provided 13 focus areas to include in your business plan.  Refer to the focus areas when developing or updating your business plan by incorporating each to gain optimal benefits.

A well thought out “bucket list” or business plan will lay a comprehensive strategy and timeline, both personally and firm wise, for achievement and promising stages of growth.  Download our Business Overview Snapshot to get started on creating your firm’s business plan.   Business Overview Snapshot

Have a Plan B

Be sure to create back-up plans.  We all know there is one constant in life, change.  Examine the challenges you might face and determine how you will overcome them by redefining your existing strategies.

Once you have developed your business plan, don’t file it away until the end of the year.  Use your business plan as a GPS guidance system for running your practice.  Update it often; real-time changes are ideal.  Doing so will ensure  you are following your plan, creating actions to meet your objectives and allow you to hone in on areas that need re-crafted strategies.

Communicate your business plan to your team in order to effectively bring it to life and track milestones to enhance your overall business focus.

As you begin to develop or review your business bucket list, contact Ironstone for templates, tips and best practices that will assist you in taking your firm to the next level.  We have numerous tools and aides available for you and insight that will help you reach the goals you have set for yourself and your firm.  Consider a team development workshop on creating bucket lists – we can help!

Last but not least, enjoy the journey!

We are curious!!  Share your bucket list with us!  What do you want to accomplish in life?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about business development and your referral network!

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Is Your Compensation Plan Boring Your Employees?

It’s not surprising that one of the most frequently asked questions of advisor firms is how to attract and retain talented people and reward them effectively with a remarkable compensation plan. Compensation packages are one of the largest line items in a budget. Ironstone finds that many firms are struggling to stay abreast with changes and new trends in salary and compensation beliefs while experiencing confusion on how to properly control organizational costs and remain viable.

Today’s compensation trends are moving from a base salary package to plans that include:
• A measurement system for variable pay
• Less emphasis on increasing base pay
• Overall firm goal achievement
• Flexibility

By implementing a compensation plan that includes the directives listed above, both the employee and the firm benefit. Compensation plans that incorporate these strategies foster teamwork that focuses on the concrete goals of your firm.

In order for firms to stay competitive, you must frequently change your compensation program and have a plan in place to do so. Your imagination is your only limitation to retaining and motivating the kind of people who are catalysts for the success of your firm.

We recommend that your firm be pro-active in developing and refining your firm’s compensation plan. Recognize that “quality of work life” rewards and appreciation play a vital role in the value of your firm’s benefits package. Your firm can be pro-active and creative by adding an array of perks to the overall benefits package you offer. Consider the following:
• Recognize results with a one-time monetary payment
• Offer opportunity for flexible work arrangements
• Write thank you notes to acknowledge a team member’s “above and beyond” actions
• Present pre-paid legal, education, and insurance benefits
• Place an emphasis on training and development of your team
• Introduce employee wellness initiatives

Lastly, remove the dead-end sign. Your team needs to see a clear and concise view of the opportunities within the firm for growth. You can add a suite of perks to your compensation package, but without the chance for growth and development, your dazzling compensation package won’t work.
As you contemplate the strategic changes you want to make in your compensation plan, do not forget that your team can be your most valuable asset. It is in your best interest to focus on reducing stress at work and in your employee’s personal lives. Reward your team, without hesitation, if you hold a team of energetic, talented and growth oriented individuals.

Developing and offering a compensation plan to your employees with traditional and non-traditional elements is both egalitarian and accountable.  Download Ironstone’s Compensation Planning Checklist!  CompensationPlanningChecklist

Contact Ironstone for more information and additional strategies that will assist you in developing and strengthening your compensation plan.  You can find more information regarding compensation in our blog- “Human Capital Strategies.” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/human-capital-strategies/

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Business Development-Marketing Plans

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Weed The Whiners-Create A Winning Culture

Forming a positive culture at your firm is harder to do than you think. It’s one of those intangible objects that burrows into every aspect of our being. Learning how to form and instill a healthy, positive culture is an important but often neglected process.

Workplace culture is a concept that studies the beliefs, attitudes, and thought processes of employees as well as the ideologies and principles of your firm.
In our blog “What Culture Are You Cultivating At Your Firm-Healthy or Toxic?” we reviewed characteristics of a healthy culture. If you haven’t taken the time to step back and look at your workplace culture, now is the time.    https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/what-culture-are-you-cultivating-at-your-firm-healthy-or-toxic/

Firms that take advantage of opportunities to discuss culture reap the benefits of increased productivity, growth, and efficiency. Start by knowing how to effectively create a healthy culture in your firm by establishing a process that includes the following components:

Hire For Passion: Make sure that you have your hiring checklist in the proper order. Many firms are hiring for credentials and experience but overlook passion. Dig beneath the surface of skill set and qualification to uncover your candidate’s true passions. When potential new hires are passionate about their career, they are more creative.

Open Communication & Discussion: On a regular basis, review with employees what is working and what isn’t. As a leader in your firm, make certain that you interact with your team frequently. Allow employees to discuss issues among themselves to reach better conclusions. Remember that the art of communication is a two-way street. Position your communication focus on talking as much as listening, which will lead to a dynamic workplace culture that will grow.

Weed The Whiners: Nothing can be more destructive than a whiner in the firm. Whiners will typically wind through the firm secretly complaining, instilling doubt, and poison passion in other team members. You must identify these people and replace them. Their passion is not equivalent to that of the organization and they simply aren’t a good fit.

You can create a legacy that will include a healthy culture. Invest and surround yourself with positive, passionate people and remain loyal to them. In doing so, you will earn loyalty from your team members that will provide you with long-term support and commitment. Making certain that your workplace culture is healthy will define the ambience of your firm.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies and tactical questions to gain meaningful insights that will strengthen the culture in your firm. By seizing control over the factors above, you will improve the overall performance of your team and reduce workplace stress.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Workplace Culture. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Strategic Planning-Compensation
Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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Implementing Team Development Programs-Often Overlooked

Learning management is a strategic component to the overall human capital mission of advisory firms and is paramount to team development.  Advisory firms should start by integrating team development programs in order to enhance employee performance.  Forward-thinking executives are continually improving the effectiveness of their teams by refining roles, expectations, and interpersonal communication in order to create accountability for results.

Your goal should be to apply and utilize a team development method that impacts your firm’s bottom line in order to gain the highest return on your learning and development investment.

Ironstone focuses on four major components that are necessary for a fully functioning workforce and implements the performance approaches to drive development.

By implementing a team development program you eliminate the need for micromanaging.

Preparation — in order to create great teams, you need to prepare to support the success of your team.  Design a culture that fuels passion, purpose, and growth.   Deliver a clear message to your team that their job is important and that you stand behind them.  Give employees the basic knowledge and skills to excel within the culture that you have created.  Share with them effective forms of communications, encourage them to ask questions, and acknowledge their contributions to the overall goals of your firm.

Incentives – Incorporate compensation into the successful execution of the firm’s goals.  One of the most powerful motivators is through the use of a performance incentive compensation plan.

Benefits –  You can become creative with the benefits that you offer to your team.  In addition to the traditional benefits such as medical insurance and retirement plans, many firms are finding that creating a flexible work environment is a good employee motivator –  increasing the desire for individual skill development for the employee.

Technology –  Providing the proper technology and training for your team to perform their job is essential to overall team development.   We have found that many firms do not take this component seriously or place much effort in assuring technology and training needs are met for employees.    Obsolete or barely functional technology tells employees their job is not important and their time is not valued.

Once you have put these components into your human capital mission, you will find that employees are capable of managing their position in the firm.  Support your team members and empower them to be as great as they can be.

“A company that does not support, empower and provide proper development

 to employees can take a great team to a problem in a very short time.”

Ironstone can assist you in developing a team development program.   We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving developing or starting your team development program.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!  What does your firm do to promote team development?   We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series:  Strategic Planning-Business Model